Protein is essential for our bodies to function correctly. It helps build and repair tissues, creates enzymes and hormones, and provides the structure for our bones and muscles.
We need protein in our diets, but how much is too much? Is it possible to eat too much protein?
The Recommended Daily Intake
The recommended daily intake (RDI) for protein is 0.36 grams per pound of bodyweight. For a 150-pound person, that works out to 54 grams of protein per day.
This amount is considered the minimum amount needed to prevent muscle loss and not necessarily the optimal amount. Some health organizations suggest that protein amounts in the range of .5 to .9 may be more beneficial, especially for pregnant or physically active people.
Most people easily meet this protein requirement with a regular diet. You probably haven’t ever had to think about or measure how much protein you’re eating.
Athletes and bodybuilders often make an effort to eat extra protein in order to bulk up. This might involve protein supplement shakes or simply eating more protein-rich foods such as meat, eggs, beans, nuts, and seeds.
How Much is Too Much?
Eating large amounts of protein does not appear harmful to otherwise healthy people.
High protein diets put extra strain on the kidneys, but there is no evidence that this leads to kidney damage in healthy people.
However, existing kidney problems may be made worse by excess protein.
Excess protein doesn’t affect the heart, blood vessels, cholesterol, or blood pressure levels adversely. It doesn’t increase your risk of cancer, either.
In fact, high protein diets may even be beneficial.
Benefits of High Protein Diets
Foods with higher amounts of protein tend to make you feel full, decreasing the likelihood of overeating and thus contributing to weight loss.
High protein diets may also help preserve muscle mass as you lose weight. And it can increase bone density and strength, which is especially important for older adults.
High protein foods can also be good for people who need to monitor and manage their blood sugar levels. People with type 2 diabetes, for example, may benefit from a high protein diet.
If you’re eating a balanced diet that includes protein-rich foods, you’re probably getting all the protein you need. There’s no need to worry about overeating.
However, if most of your protein comes from processed meats or meals high in saturated fat, these foods may negatively affect your health in other ways. So, it’s still important to eat in moderation and choose healthy protein sources.